atrial septal defect
is a hole in the wall between the 2 upper chambers (right and left atriums) of the heart. A transcatheter procedure is a minimally-invasive way to repair the hole. During this procedure, a device is implanted to seal the hole. As your child recovers, the device will trigger the heart tissue to grow. The tissue will slowly grow over the hole.
If a child is born with a hole between the upper chambers of the heart, the blood can flow backward into the right side of the heart and into the lungs. This triggers the heart to work harder. Over time, this can lead to damage to blood vessels in the lungs and
congestive heart failure
. The procedure is done to fix the hole.
Blood Flow Through the Heart
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Most children who have this procedure will have good outcomes.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is free of risk. Possible complications may include:
Bleeding at the point of the catheter insertionDamage to arteriesAllergic reaction to x-ray dyeBlood clot formation
endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart muscleReaction to the anesthesia, such as light-headedness and wheezingBlood clot formationArrhythmia
—abnormal heart beat
Before your child's procedure, talk to the doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your child's risk of complications such as chronic disease such as diabetes or obesity.
Low birth weight or a recent infection may increase the risk of complications.
A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Blood and urine testsEchocardiogram
—a test that uses sound waves to visualize functioning of the heart
(ECG, EKG)—a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the chest
You will be told whether your child needs to stop taking certain medication.
Ask when your child should stop eating or drinking before the surgery.
will be used. It will block any pain and keep your child asleep through the surgery. It is given through an IV in the hand or arm.
Your child will receive IV fluid and medicines through a vein in his arm. The catheter (small tube) will be inserted either in the arm or groin. Next, electrodes will be placed on the chest. These electrodes will send information to the EKG machine, allowing the heart to be monitored.
A catheter will be inserted in the blood vessel and advanced so the end is in the heart. Dye will be injected to allow the doctor to view x-ray images of the heart. An echocardiogram may also be used. Before the hole can be covered, the doctor will need to find out the size of the hole. A catheter with a balloon attached to it will be sent to the upper chambers of the heart. The balloon will inflate and measure the hole.
When the size of the defect is known, another catheter will be sent to the heart. This catheter will have a device attached. There are different types of devices available. Some are able to open so that the hole is covered on both sides. Other devices open like an umbrella to cover the defect. After the device is placed, the catheter will be removed. Lastly, a bandage will be placed over the insertion site.
Your child will be closely monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU). The hospital staff will:
Place pressure on the insertion site and apply a pressure bandageHave your child lie flat
Your child will have pain and soreness. Your child will be given pain medication.
The usual length of stay is 2-4 days. In some cases, your child may be able to go home as soon as the next day. The doctor may choose to keep your child longer if there are complications.
When your child is recovering at the hospital, the hospital staff may:
Do tests, such as an EKG, chest x-ray, and blood tests.Have your child lie still and flat for several hours. This is to prevent bleeding.Place a pressure bandage to reduce bleeding.Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to flush the dye from his body.Give pain medication to ease discomfort.
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your child's chance of infection such as: Washing their handsWearing gloves or masksKeeping your child's incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your child's chances of infection such as: Washing your hands and your child's hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the sameReminding your child's healthcare providers to wear gloves or masksNot allowing others to touch your child's incisions
When your child returns home, do the following:
Encourage your child to rest. Have him avoid strenuous activities until the doctor says they are okay to resume.Follow all of the doctor’s instructions.
Contact your child's doctor if your child's recovery is not progressing as expected or your child develops complications such as: Signs of infection, including fever and chillsIncreased sweatingRedness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the catheter insertion siteNausea and/or vomitingLightheadednessIncreased painFatigueRashLoss of appetite or poor feedingNot drinking enough fluidsNot urinating
Call for medical help or go to the emergency room right away if any of the following occur in your child:
Fast breathing or trouble breathingBlue or gray skin colorNot waking up or not interactingChest painHeart palpitationsWeakness or fainting
Signs of a
stroke, such as drooping facial muscles, changes in vision or speech, and difficulty walking
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Atrial septal defect (ASD). Cardiothoracic Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.cts.usc.edu/atrialseptaldefect.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Atrial septal defect. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at:
http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site477/mainpageS477P0.html. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Open-heart surgery. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/treat/surg/open.htm. Updated June 2015. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Atrial septal defect. Cove Point Foundation website. Available at:
http://www.pted.org/?id=atrialseptal4. Updated May 16, 2011. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Atrial septal defect. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/asd.html. Accessed May 2013. Accessed June 6, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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